How To Build Content Marketing Trust: 3 Tactics [Research]

Content Marketing TrustCustomer trust has eroded.

No surprise with fake news claims and diminished ability to assess media reliability.

This reduces your ability to reach your audience and get them to pay attention to your message.

Even worse, 70% of customers make buying decisions based on online information. This means that your content marketing is key to persuading buyers. (ZMOT data)

What’s a marketer to do?

  • Understand how content marketing builds trust.
  • Assess the current trust environment as measured by Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer.
  • Take advantage of these 3 trust building tactics in your content marketing strategy.

Content Marketing Trust Defined

Hierarchy of Trust Chart

5 Levels of Trust for online content via Nielsen Norman Group (Chart)

Trust connects us. Based on past experiences, we’ve acquired evidence of reliability and honesty. As a result, we develop and deepen relationships as individuals.

Content marketing works in the same way. Offer your audience free information to establish and nurture your relationship with them. This is based on the theory of reciprocity.

Your promotion-free information builds reader confidence in your organization. Infuse your content with branding, narrative and emotion. This creates an emotional response to your business.

To meet your audience’s trust needs at each level, apply the Nielsen Norman Group’s Trust Hierarchy. Balance your content marketing offering and related requests against your audience’s needs.

The Trust Hierarchy’s 5 levels answers theses questions:

  1. Is this information relevant and trustworthy?
  2. Is this information better targeted to my interests and preferences than other options?
  3. Does this information worth exchanging my email address for?
  4. How secure is this site with regard to storing financial and personal information?
  5. Do I want to develop a long-term relationship with this company?
Details of 5 levels of Trust Hierarchy-Chart

5 Levels of Hierarchy of Trust Defined -Nielsen Norman Group 

Allow time to establish your relationship before moving to more significant interactions.


Content Marketing Trust Research:  3 Key Credibility Elements

To maximize content marketing trust, you need credibility from the people who represent your business, your business as an organization, and the media platforms you select for content distribution.

1. Content Marketing Trust: Are Your Content Representatives Credible?

To be trustworthy, your audience must believe the people behind your content marketing. This includes your content creators and and the people they cite and quote. In part this is the logic behind the increased use of influencer marketing.

Here is how Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer respondents ranked different spokespeople:

  • 63% rate technical experts as credible, up 3 percentage points from 2017. Tap into the authority of your in-house technical specialists whenever possible.
  • 61% rate academic experts as credible, up 1 percentage point from 2017. Use academics and related research to support your information.
  • 54% rate “a person like me” as credible sources, down 6 percentage points from 2017. This all time low is because of fake news and fake social media profiles. Note: Don’t confuse “People like me” with family, friends and colleagues.
  • 47% rate employees as credible source, down 1 percentage point from 2017. Don’t overlook the value of employees to build trust with your audience.
  • 44% rate CEOs as credible sources, up 7 percentage points from 2017.
  • 39% rate journalists as credible sources, up 12 percentage points from 2017. While faith in fact checking and media expertise increased, journalist remain untrustworthy.
54% rate “a person like me” as a credible source and 39% rate journalists as credible sources. @EdelmanPR #Trust #contentmarketingClick To Tweet


Trustworthiness of different representatives

Trustworthiness via 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer – Chart and data

Actionable Content Marketing Trust Tips To Improve Source Credibility:

  • Get employees who are technical experts to create content. They’re your “go-to” in-house influencers. To succeed, position them as authorities in their field. Then give them the tools and support they need to make their content shine.
  • Tap into the power of user-generated content. Build relationships with customers who like your products and business. Also, ask for their permission before using their content and photographs.

2. Content Marketing Trust: Is Your Business Credible?

42% of respondents don’t know which companies or brands to trust.

42% of respondents don't know which companies or brands to trust. @EdelmanPR #trustClick To Tweet


In the US, trust in business decreased 10 percentage points to 48%. To increase trust safeguard information quality, protect customers, and safeguard privacy.

How Trust in Business Changed in 2018 By Country – Edelman Trust Barometer

To better understand customer trust in businesses, look at Accenture Research focused on trust and customer loyalty. (Note: While this research dates from 2016, it’s the most recent information available.)

In terms of trust and loyalty, the key factors for US customers are protecting customer information and being available when they need you.

  • 85% of US customers consider protecting their privacy and safeguarding their personal information to be a key factor.
  • 81% of US customers believe that company should be there when I need them otherwise leaving me alone.

By contrast, 23% of  US customers are swayed by either celebrity endorsements or social media influencers.

US Customer Loyalty and Trust – Accenture Research – Chart

Actionable Content Marketing Trust Tips To Improve Company Credibility:

  • Safeguard everyone’s personal and financial information. Don’t wait for regulatory oversight. Take care of personal information—don’t sell it or let other firms use it without permission.
  • Value your reader’s email address. Use your email communications to continue to build trust. Skip the me, me, me promotion. Instead respect being part of their content inner circle.

3. Content Marketing Trust: Are Your Platforms (aka Media) Credible?

Content marketers need believable media platforms to:

  • Support content reliability
  • Offer a dependable message context
  • Amplify and distribute your information

Owned media, social media, search and influencers are forms of media to your audience. You can’t fool them. But without owned and paid media trust, your content fails to attract attention.

How People Define Media-Hint: It includes content marketing and influencers via Edelman Trust Barometer -Chart (2018)

Your audience views media as too focused on building an audience and breaking stories first. They seek quality information that isn’t partisan.

Media Trust Has Eroded-Media Entities Are Too Focused On Their Own Needs

Your content marketing can fill the gap left by traditional media entities. Here’s where media falls short:

  • 36% of respondents believe media guards information quality.
  • 50% of respondents believe media educates people on important issues.
  • 45% of respondents believe media informs good life decisions.

65% of respondents receive their news via social media feeds, search and news apps. Also, average trust in social media and search is down 11 percentage points to 42%.

Trust in news media is down- 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

Actionable Content Marketing Trust Tips To Improve Media Credibility:

  • Build owned media entities. At a least develop your blog and email marketing. This gives you control over content quality.
  • Optimize content marketing for search. Create quality content around your core search categories. Search is a long-term opportunity.
  • Diversify social media use. Use a mix of social media and messaging platforms to deliver your content. Test new options on a regular basis.

Content Marketing Trust


How To Build Content Marketing Trust: 3 Tactics

Content marketing builds audience trust over time. Even better, it helps develop and deepen customer relationships.

Here are 3 tactics to increase your content marketing’s reliability.

1. Integrate trust into your content marketing

59% of Edelman respondents say that it’s harder to know who produced a piece of news.

So make it easy for readers to trust your content.

  • Develop and post your content marketing mission statement. Explain the type of content you create. Position your mission statement about higher level goals that help society. Don’t focus on leads and sales.Content Marketing Mission Statement
  • Include an “About Us” page on owned media. Display photos and bios of the people behind your content. Show readers who you are. Explain your point of view. The goal of your About Page is to build trust. Don’t worry about the size of your firm!
  • Incorporate your brand into your content. Your brand builds trust with prospects and customers. Build reliability with a consistent use of voice, presentation, vocabulary, images and typography.

2. Use content marketing to build trust in your company

Every piece of content marketing is an opportunity to attract new readers and deepen  customer relationships.

  • Provide 5 content types that customers needOffer product detail, answer customer questions, educate customers to use products, tell customer stories (including case studies and reviews), and assess customer fit.

    5 Types of Content Customers Actively Seek & Need – Chart

  • Publish content on a regular schedule. Regular content servings build reader expectation.
  • Ground information in facts. Be transparent. Link to the original source of the data.

3. Develop audience relationships with content marketing

Use the Trust Hierarchy to build relationships with your audience.

  • Tap into existing communities. Include social media groups, secondary social media platforms, amplification platforms and messaging apps.
  • Give visitors a reason to return for more content. Think WIIFM or “What’s in it for me?” from your reader’s perspective. Over time, encourage them to share information with you.


Content Marketing Trust Conclusion

When trust is low, many factors are beyond your control. Use a variety of methods to build customer relations.

Promotion-free content marketing is the best way to improve customer trust in your organization. Buyers actively seek reliable information before they decide.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes to see how they view the world. Then use this knowledge to provide the content marketing they want and need.

And slowly but surely, you start to build content marketing trust.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Credit: cc zero

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